We had a little bit of a sleep-in this morning before heading back towards Ningaloo National Park after breakfast. We only had 363 km’s to cover on day 10 to get down to Carnarvon, but we needed time to spend snorkelling at Coral Bay. There was more to see around Exmouth though, so we spent a little bit of time in the morning seeing the other sights around Exmouth before heading down to Coral Bay.
First up we went out to Bundegi Beach. It’s a beautiful sandy beach, much like those within Ningaloo National Park; however, it is not as sheltered, and there is more boating activity.
Behind Bundegi Beach is Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt, the station that Exmouth was actually built to support.
From the outside, it looks like both not much and quite impressive at the same time. It just appears to be a bunch of towers, but at the same time, when you look a bit closer, there are 13 massive towers in a hexagonal shape. All the towers are over 300m tall with the tallest one in the middle being 387m high. According to Wikipedia, this tower, Tower Zero was actually the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere for many years. Check it out on Google Maps Satellite View below:
Bundegi Beach is actually very close to one side, so you get quite a good view of what the towers look like and just how tall they are.
The station is used for communicating with Australian and US Navy submarines while they are submerged and around the other side of the station, on the way towards Ningaloo National Park, is a small submarine bow and some information about the station.
Bundegi Beach itself is a quiet spot, there was only one other car came while we were there, a 4WD that had just been out on the beach. There is a boat ramp here, and the sand is beautiful, but there is not much else to see.
Next, we made our way to Vlaming Head to see the Vlaming Head Lighthouse and the remnants of the old World War 2 Radar.
The lookout at the radar tower provides fantastic views of the spectacular coastline in both directions as well as views of the Naval Communication Station.
There is also some great information on why the lighthouse was built and the history of the coast.
It turns out that humpback whales visit the area between April and July each year and you can also see whale sharks and manta rays. Off the coast, if you have a clear day apparently you can also see some off-shore oil rigs.
From here we made our way back down the hill to the Jurabi Turtle Centre, a sanctuary zone for the turtles and also information centre about them. It’s interesting, and it turns out there are a lot of different turtles that nest in the area including green turtles, loggerhead turtles, and hawksbill turtles.
Learmonth Potshot War Memorial
On our way out of Exmouth, we passed through Learmonth and stopped at the Potshot war memorial.
It is a short but steep walk uphill to the memorial lookout, and it is worth doing.
There are a few War artefacts including recovered underwater mines, but most interesting is the information about the war history of the area and the United States Army contribution to building what is now Learmonth and Exmouth.
Next up is Coral Bay. Where do I even start? This place is spectacular!
The town itself is tiny, so small in fact that the local service station is just an automatic pump on the side of the road, not even a roof over it!
When we arrived, it was just at the beginning of the tourist season, just warm enough to start really snorkelling. However, there was a traffic jam getting in caused by a backlog of cars queued up trying to check into the town’s two caravan parks.
Eventually, we got through and to the beach. There is a car park at each end of the beach and public toilets at the end closest to the town centre. We were lucky to get a park as someone was leaving, so I imagine it’s a battle at the peak of the season! We didn’t waste any time getting changed and heading down to the water.
There is a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk that takes you right down to the edge of the beach and some undercover shelters which I personally think is awesome.
The sand is a blinding white contrasted against the brilliant blue water, and we arrived while the tide was low, so it was actually a relatively long walk out. That said, it was beautiful underfoot.
When we got to the water’s edge, we couldn’t believe the size of the fish swimming past, right up to the shore and the water was so calm we could make them out very clearly.
We could also make out the shapes of coral close to the shore too.
Then we got into the water and were wowed not only by how close and how beautiful the coral was, but by how crystal clear the water was.
We got to see all sorts of fish and coral, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a clam while snorkelling, so I was super excited about that!
We were hoping we might be lucky enough to see a turtle, but sadly we didn’t.
To be honest, we could have spent all day and more snorkelling here. We certainly only saw a small portion of the bay in the few hours we spent in the water. Unfortunately, though, we had to continue on to try and get to Carnarvon before too late. So after getting changed back into dry clothes, we had a quick look out over the Bay from the lookout and did a quick drive around the town before heading off.
Tropic of Capricorn
It hadn’t even occurred to us that we were going to cross it today, but between Coral Bay and Carnarvon lies the Tropic of Capricorn with a nice prominent sign and photo op!
It was right on sunset that we arrived in Carnarvon, and it was quite striking to see the large space station dish rising up with the sun setting behind it.
We had been hoping to have time to check out One Mile Jetty before dark, so we went out to it and watched the sunset.
Unfortunately, being so late we couldn’t see much else, so we decided to come back in the morning.
We spent the night at the Wintersun Top Tourist Park which we were extremely impressed with! The park managers were so friendly and made us feel right at home. The park facilities were also excellent and well maintained.
It was a Monday night that we were staying in Carnarvon, and it turns out that Monday at the Wintersun is $10 spud night! After checking them out, we decided that it was excellent value and we got one to share (they are huge).
It turned out that the baked potatoes also came with dessert – a mini magnum – and the managers kindly gave us two even though we only bought one spud.
We were tired and didn’t really feel like socialising, so we ate in our van. However, the night was a great social event that brought heaps of people at the campground together to eat in the dining shed.
We would definitely stay here again if we were passing through Carnarvon again!
What about your experience?
Have you been to any of these places? Exmouth maybe? Coral Bay? Carnarvon? I’d love to hear what you liked or didn’t like and if you have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments below, and if you have any questions about any of these places, ask away in the comments as well. I’ll do my best to answer!
First Published: July 9, 2017